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Presbyterian Church of Livingston v. Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control

Decided: December 22, 1958.

PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF LIVINGSTON, A NEW JERSEY CORPORATION, APPELLANT,
v.
DIVISION OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE CONTROL, AN AGENCY OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, AND THE COLUMBIAN ASSOCIATION OF LIVINGSTON, A NEW JERSEY CORPORATION, RESPONDENTS



Goldmann, Conford and Freund. The opinion of the court was delivered by Freund, J.A.D.

Freund

This is an appeal from an order of the Director of the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control granting the application of The Columbian Association of Livingston for a club liquor license at its premises, No. 272 West Northfield Avenue, Livingston.

On June 17, 1957 The Columbian Association of Livingston (Association) acquired the frame dwelling at No. 272 West Northfield Avenue, located in a residential zone. Upon

application to the local zoning board permission was granted, over objection of the appellant, to operate a clubhouse on the premises. The Presbyterian Church of Livingston (Church) is situated diagonally across the street, southwest from the applicant's premises. Adjoining the Church premises on the north, and directly across the street from the Association's premises, is located the manse of the Reverend William S. Ackerman, pastor of the Church. Next door to the manse is the home of Homer Asher. The Temple Emanu-El is located to the south of the Association's premises on the same side of West Northfield Avenue. These two properties are separated by a residential property, No. 268 West Northfield Avenue, having a frontage of 55 feet. This residence is owned by a Mr. Piserchio, who did not testify in this proceeding. A substantial part of the rear portion of the Temple's property is contiguous to the premises of the Association beyond the rear line of Piserchio's property.

An application by the Association for a club liquor license was filed with the Director of the Alcoholic Beverage Control rather than with the local issuing authority because a member of the Association was also a member of the issuing authority. R.S. 33:1-20.

Written objections to the issuance of a liquor license were filed with the Director by the Church, the Temple, and Asher. The objections stated that the premises of the applicant were within 200 feet of each of the religious institutions, and that as a result the granting of a license would violate R.S. 33:1-76, which provides:

"* * * no license shall be issued for the sale of alcoholic beverages within two hundred feet of any church or public schoolhouse or private schoolhouse not conducted for pecuniary profit, * * *. Said two hundred feet shall be measured in the normal way that a pedestrian would properly walk from the nearest entrance of said church or school to the nearest entrance of the premises sought to be licensed. * * *"

It was further claimed that the sale of alcoholic beverages in such close proximity to the Church and Temple would

be incompatible with their religious purposes. In addition, Asher stated that a liquor license on premises in such close proximity to his property, "in a strictly residential zone," would depreciate the value of the property. At the formal hearing on the application, the testimony disclosed that the Church has a membership of 750 adults and 600 children. The Association has a membership of 260 male adults.

After the taking of proofs, the hearer of the Division filed his report and recommended that the Association's application be denied for the reason that "the location of its club premises is in too close proximity to the churches * * *." Exceptions were then filed on behalf of the applicant, and after oral argument before the Director by the respective parties he reversed the recommendations of the hearer and granted the club liquor license on the grounds that, as to the Church, the proper measurement

"* * * from applicant's premises would be a point opposite its own entrance * * * along the northerly side of Northfield Avenue in southeast direction approximately 202 feet to a point opposite the parking lot of the church and then at right angles across Northfield Avenue 40 feet to the ...


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